TODAY’S READING FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT- NEHEMIAH 11:1-12:26
Chapters 11 and 12 of Nehemiah are the last chapters of historical narrative in the Old Testament. There will be a lapse of 400 years before the events of the New Testament begin.
The first part of Chapter 11 deals with the challenge of repopulating and settling the city of Jerusalem with its newly refurbished walls.
Not more than 50,000 had returned from the captivity and not many of them were eager to settle in Jerusalem. Life in the city was considered dangerous, but it was imperative for the nation’s interests to establish Jerusalem as a viable capital city.
The leaders did not ask the people to do what they themselves were not willing to do themselves. They led by example. “Speed of the leader; speed of the team”. They demonstrated a willingness to do God’s will, no matter what the cost. They chose to model what it meant to be part of Jerusalem’s repopulation program and chose to settle in the city, rather than the more peaceful country life on their ancestral lands. 1 out of 10 adult males and their families were drafted by lottery to live in the city. Some volunteered.
“The people commended all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem” (Nehemiah 11:2).
Why rebuild the city walls if you are not willing to live there? We might ask ourselves are we willing to commit ourselves to serve God’s purposes when it is not the most convenient and comfortable option? Would you be willing to move to strengthen the work of the Lord and extend the witness of the gospel?
The provincial leaders who settled in Jerusalem are listed. It is interesting that the Levites had the least number of volunteers staying in the city- 284. In Joshua 21 they had been assigned 48 cities so they could have legitimately lived outside Jerusalem. The descendants of Perez of Judah were 468 able bodied men. Of Benjamin, 928; The priests descending from Ahitub numbered 822. They were appointed to carry out the work of the temple. There were 172 gatekeepers recruited to serve on the security team. All the rest of the Israelites settled on their ancestral properties.
Singing continued to be a specialty of the family of Asaph. His descendant, Uzzi, was the music director of the choir in Jerusalem and supervised the daily activities of the singers. This likely meant daily choir practice.
It is wonderful to see these people settling in the lands inhabited by the giants that once intimidated them (Nehemiah 11:25; Joshua 14:15).
David had appointed 24 divisions of priests to serve in the temple (1 Chronicles 24:7-19). Only 22 leaders of these divisions are listed in Nehemiah Chapter 12 as having returned from Babylon with Zerubbabel 100 years earlier (538 BC). Perhaps it was not possible to fulfill all of David’s desired number of divisions.
Eliashib, who is the high priest in Nehemiah’s day (12:10), is the grandson of Jeshua, the high priest who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel from the exile (Ezra 2:1).
TODAY’S READING FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT – 1 CORINTHIANS 10:14- 11:2
Flee idolatry. Paul has made it clear that there is no other God but the Lord, and therefore if one has the liberty of conscience and is sure that they will not cause a brother to stumble, they can purchase meat at the store near the temple. But now he is sharing that we are not to be ignorant of the demonic nature of idol worship.
He contrasts genuine fellowship which is the partaking at the Lord’s table with partaking at the table of demons.
In coming to Christ we have been made partakers of that which is holy. We remember that our new covenant relationship with God was ratified with the blood of Jesus. He paid the full price of our sin debt, that we might be released from our obligation to pay its wages ourselves. We are now partakers of his life and have holy communion with Him and members of His body, the church.
1 Corinthians 10:17 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.
We must recognize that Christ’s finished work of redemption is the ground of our unity. For us to live is Christ! We all live by this one life!
This is another reason for the Corinthians to give pause before eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols. They must not give the impression to others that they are partakers of demonic worship. If others are made aware of the fact that you are eating meat dedicated to demons, you are identifying yourself as a demon worshiper and not a worshiper of Christ.
We have modern day applications. While physical stretching in itself may be therapeutic, the very name and origin of ‘yoga’ (meaning ‘yoked in union with universal consciousness of Brahman) and is inextricably linked to the demonic practices of Hinduism. The ‘sun salutation’ postures in yoga have symbolic meaning in ritual of giving worship to the sun god, equivalent to Baal in the Bible. To say you practice “Christian yoga” is equal to saying you are practicing “Christian Hinduism”. There can be no such hybrid.
1 Corinthians 10:20-21 20 No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.
Paul sums up a good rule for our behavior. We should do all things for the glory of God and the ‘gospel’ good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:31 31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PSALMS- PSALM 34:11-22
Psalm 34:11 11 Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
This is what we need to learn while we are young. God is to be revered for Who He is as the Supreme authority. He is our all good, all wise, all just and holy God, Creator of heaven and earth.
This holy recognition of God, the healthy fear of the Lord, will give us that extra restraint from lashing out foolishly with our tongues or acting out with our selfish impulses.
Psalm 34:15-16 15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous And His ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
There are so many wonderful promises in this Psalm:
Psalm 34:18 18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:19 19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
Psalm 34:22 22 The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, and none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 21:14-16
Proverbs 21:14-16 14 A gift in secret subdues anger, And a bribe in the bosom, strong wrath. 15 The exercise of justice is joy for the righteous, but is terror to the workers of iniquity. 16 A man who wanders from the way of understanding Will rest in the assembly of the dead.
Showing kindness, giving a secret gift can soften anger and turn away wrath. This proverb does not condone bribery, but merely states an observable truth. Your sincere actions can subdue anger.
Those who recognize the righteousness of the Lord will rejoice in just and equitable decisions. Those who are wicked and oblivious to the righteousness of God, will see justice as an impediment to having their own way.
Verse 16 is another way of stating that there are many ways that seem right to a man that end up in death (Prov 14:12; 16:25).
PRAY FOR THE NATIONS – LIECHENSTEIN
Principality of Liechtenstein
Area: 160 sq. km
Mountainous enclave on the Rhine between Switzerland and Austria. One of two doubly landlocked countries.
Population: 36,190 Annual Growth: 0.84%
Official language: German, but the common tongue is Alemmanic, a divergent dialect of Standard German Languages: 4 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
Challenges for Prayer
The first and only evangelical fellowship of believers was started in 1985 after an evangelistic campaign launched by British, Norwegian and Swiss believers. The evangelical population, mostly expatriates, is now slowly increasing. Campus for Christ had a part-time presence hosting evangelistic breakfasts. Some members of the extended royal family profess personal faith in Christ, with links to the Catholic charismatic renewal movement.
PRAYER: Lord, we stand in awe as we consider the perfection of Your ways. We marvel at Your patience as You work all things together for the good of Your purposes to those who love You and are called into fellowship with You through the gospel. We celebrate Your goodness with joyful praise and worship. Keep us willing to go where You believe we can be most useful. Forgive us for retreating to our comfort zones. Not our will, but Your will be done. We need not fear calamity, for You have proved Yourself to be true to Your promise–“Many are the afflictions of the righteous but you deliver them out of them all”. We give You praise and thanks in Jesus’ Name. Amen